BITV-Test is a comprehensive and reliable accessibility evaluation procedure. 50 checkpoints lead evaluators to a detailed assessment of the accessibility of information-oriented web sites and web applications.
On September 22, 2011, the German directive "Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung" (BITV 2.0) came into effect for German federal web sites. BITV 2.0 is a complete overhaul of the old BITV that had been modelled on WCAG 1.0. The new directive is based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 published in December 2008 by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
The aim of the directive is to improve the accessibility of web content by mandating design principles that afford access for blind, visually impaired and deaf users as well as for users with motor deficiencies. All web content should be accessible via different browsers and assistive technologies.
While Germany's federal institutions are directly affected by the BITV directive, its impact goes far beyond. Web designers and CMS developers that serve federal institutions have to prove their competence in implementing web sites according to the directive. Other web service providers also increasingly use the directive as guidance. It sets a new quality standard.
BITV-Test is an web-based application to evaluate the accessibility and conformance to BITV 2.0, of information-oriented websites and web applications. It captures the requirements and success criteria of the BITV 2.0 in a set of 50 concise and practical checkpoints. The test covers Priority 1 of the BITV 2.0 directive. Priority 1 includes all WCAG 2.0 Level AA Success Criteria plus SC 2.4.8 Location, which is on Level AAA of WCAG 2.0.
BITV-Test has been developed by the BIK project in close co-operation with associations of and for disabled people, web designers, and accessibility experts. The test was first published in 2004 and has been continually updated since. A new version of BITV-Test was released when the new BITV 2.0 came into force in September 2011.
There are three different types of BITV-Test:
The results of BITV design support tests and BITV final tests are subject to independent quality assurance by an accessibility expert in the BIK project team.
Before a BITV-Test is carried out, evaluators check the suitability of the site. Websites largely depending on inaccessible web technologies are not tested.
Evaluators then explores the website and define an appropriate page sample that reflects the complexity of the site. The page sample must also include additional dynamic states of pages. The size of the page sample depends on the complexity of the website under test. Dynamic behaviour and processes are captured by defining additional states to be tested on individual pages in the sample.
For each of the 50 checkpoints, in-depth explanations and instructions inform testers what is to be checked, why the check is important, and how the check is carried out.
When testing against a particular checkpoint, evaluators rate the overall degree of conformance on a graded Likert-type scale with five rating levels: from 100% for full conformance, to 0% for a clear failure.
The level of rating reflects both the quantity and the criticality of flaws identified. When rating alt texts, for instance, a page with a crucial image-based navigation element with missing alt text would be rated as completely unacceptable (0%), whereas a page where just one of several teaser images has inadequate alt text would be rated as marginally acceptable (75%). In the latter case, the checkpoint would still contribute ¾ of its individual value to the overall score.
The checkpoints are weighted according to their impact on accessibility, each contributing between 1 and 3 points to the overall maximum score of 100.
If serious accessibility problems are discovered during a test (for example, a keyboard trap, or a missing alt text on a crucial graphical navigation element), the overall result for a website can be marked down to "not acaccessible". The website will then fail conformance to BITV, even if its overall score would be above 90 points.
In tandem tests, the conclusion of both independent tests is followed by an arbitration phase. Here, both evaluators run through all the checkpoints they have rated differently and agree on the final consensual rating. The arbitration phase helps detect oversights and corrects both too lenient and too strict ratings.
Web sites that reach more than 90 points are classed as ‘accessible’, sites with a score of more than 95 points are classed as ‘very accessible’. Sites successfully tested can place the 90plus or 95plus seal on ther website to demonstrate conformance to BITV.
The entire test procedure is publicly documented. For those tests that have been published, the individual checkpoint assessments are also publicly available. Site owners using the 90plus accessibility seal on their website must include a link from the seal back the test report to back up their conformance claim.
The result of a BITV-Test is based both on objective measurement and human assessment. This is not a deficiency of method. The actual accessibility of web sites depends not only on the adherence to formal rules. Any reliable test has to be grounded in human judgement. However, the reliability of testing must be safeguarded. This means that test results should be replicable within a margin of error. Different testers should arrive at comparable results.
The team-based approach enables testers to learn to apply the latitude in their assessment in a similar way. The web sites tested should neither be assessed too leniently nor too strictly.